Nayanar accused Achuthanandan of helping Oommen Chandy in Palmolein case in 1997

October 4, 2011 at 1:31 am | Posted in BULLY | Leave a comment
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Kerala CPI-M in ferment

Venu Menon in Thiruvananthapuram on Rediif on the Net.

After years of simmering and ocassional rebellions, the volcano that is the Communist Party of India (Marxist) finally erupted.

The subterranean tensions bubbled to the surface last week when Chief Minister E K Nayanar accused senior party colleague and Politburo member V S Achuthanandan of trying to hush up the involvement of former finance minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy in the murky Palmolein import deal, which is currently under investigation.

Anxious to clear his name, Achuthanandan displayed documents that allegedly were proof of his innocence at a hastily summoned press conference at AKG Centre, the CPI-M state headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram.

But the battle between the two CPI-M stalwarts plunged the party and the left coalition into a credibility crisis, at a time the party is facing organisational elections. Nayanar’s reckless remark has ripped the veil of professed unity the party leadership was at pains to project. Now that the truth was out, it seeks to contain the damage. But the CPI-M state committee, at a closed-door session, expressed its annoyance at the chief minister’s behaviour.

Once a stable monolith, the CPI-M broke up into two warring factions. On one side was the trade union lobby spearheaded by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, known for its militancy and hard-line postures. Bunched together against it were the student and youth wings, the Students Federation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India, who looked to Achuthanandan for inspiration. These are two factions facing off in the party polls.

Achuthanandan is believed to be orchestrating his return to the forefront after his shock defeat in 1996 from the Mararikulam assembly constituency in his native Alapuzha.

It is an open secret that the CITU sabotaged his prospects and that the party leadership moved swiftly to restore discipline later. But it was a grievous setback for Achuthanandan, who was tipped to be the party’s nominee for chief minister. Instead, Nayanar was installed as the CM after a close race against Susheela Gopalan, the CITU nominee. Backing for Nayanar’s candidature came from Achuthanandan, who wanted to get his own back with the CITU.

But Nayanar and Achutanandan soon fell out. Said an Achuthanandan ally: “Nayanar is an opportunist, He came to power with Achuthanandan’s help and then turned against him.”

But Achuthanandan too has his critics. Nayanar loyalists suspect the motive behind Achuthanandan’s recent crusades. He put Irrigation Minister Baby John, a close associate of Nayanar, in the dock for his role in the Mullaperiyar dam scandal. And his campaign against the conversion of paddy lands into real estate complexes forced the chief minister to take cognisance of the issue. Observed a Nayanar supporter, “Achuthanandan is out to discredit Nayanar so that he can become the CM.”

But these crusades have also earned Achuthanandan grassroot support within the party and reinforced his image as a clean politician of firm convictions. He has enthused a section of younger Marxists like Thiruvananthapuram Mayor V Sivankutty, whose crackdown on big money lobbies won him public goodwill. Among Achuthanandan’s supporters are Assembly Speaker M Vijaykumar and Electricity Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The CITU faction arrayed against him includes Industries Minister Susheela Gopalan, Fisheries Minister T K. Ramakrishnan and Politburo member E Balanandan.

To the bulk of his senior colleagues and coalition partners, Achuthanandan comes across as a battering ram heading in the wrong direction.

Marxist patriarch E M S Namboodiripad is a fence-sitter in factional war. It was EMS who inducted Achuthanandan into the party’s apex body, the Politburo, but was dismayed to see him drifting towards Jyoti Basu. Before long, Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Basu and Achuthanandan emerged as the triumvirate of senior CPI-M leaders. Back home, Achuthanandan began to challenge EMS’s political blueprints, especially his line on hobnobbing with groups such as Sulaiman Sait’s Indian National League.

Chief Minister Nayanar operates as a one-man lobby, opposed to and by the other factions. His detractors foresee a change in the state’s leadership after the party congress in Calcutta in December. But Nayanar is unfazed. He exudes a charisma that keeps him politically buoyant. He is something of a loose cannon, blundering with his words, but manages to survive the resulting political embarrassment. More often than not, his indiscretions are passed off as rustic wit.

But this public washing of dirty linen hasn’t done him much good. And now even his future may depend on his diplomacy rather than pure survival skills.

http://www.rediff.com/news/sep/30cpm.htm

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